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Interaction of Maternal Personality Traits and Intimate Partner Violence as Influences on Maternal Representations

NCJ Number
Infant Mental Health Journal Volume: 34 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2013 Pages: 222-233
Brittany K. Lannert; Alytia A. Levendosky; G. Anne Bogat
Date Published
June 2013
12 pages
In this study, maternal representations (Working Model of the Child Interview; C.H. Zeanah, D. Benoit, L. Hirshberg, M.L. Barton, & C. Regan, 1994), maternal personality (Revised NEO Personality Inventory; P.T. Costa & R.R. McCrae, 1992), and experiences of domestic violence (Severity of Violence Against Women Scales; L. Marshall, 1992) were assessed in a community sample of 180 women during pregnancy and 1 year postpartum.

Maternal representations of the infant and self-as-mother predict attachment security and may be differentially influenced by environmental stressors such as intimate partner violence (IPV), but no study has yet examined potential direct and interactive effects of maternal personality. In the current study, logistic regression analyses assessed main and interaction effects of personality traits and IPV exposure on maternal representations in pregnancy and stability and change over the first year of life. The analysis found that maternal openness and agreeableness increased the odds of balanced prenatal representations, and extraversion predicted change from non-balanced to balanced representations when the child was 1 year old. The relationship with conscientiousness and openness was moderated by IPV exposure. The authors conclude that the interaction of IPV and maternal personality has significant implications for the earliest substrates of parenting. Future research may include maternal personality variables to further explicate their role as broad predictors of care-giving representations. Clarification of the role of neuroticism is needed. These findings may inform the development of family-based interventions targeting care-giving and insecure attachment relationships. (Publisher abstract modified)